Oct. 20, 2017

Our Children Will Pay for This Year’s State Budget

Pennsylvania currently is dealing with a more than $2 billion budget deficit. Instead of reducing state spending to bring it in line with available revenues, the House this week approved and I voted against a plan to borrow money to fill the deficit.

The plan will in part generate approximately $1.5 billion by securitizing state tobacco settlement revenues. In exchange for a large, up-front payment this year, the state will pay more money in the long term. Money that in future years could have been used to provide state programs and services will instead be used to finance this debt and pay for the costly interest. By spending money this year that, as a result, will not be available in future years to pay for programs that benefit children and students, this budget engages in a form of generational theft.

Pennsylvania state government has a spending problem. It does not have a revenue problem. I have fought and will continue to fight to reduce spending to bring it in line with existing revenues.

The plan to borrow more than $1 billion to fill the budget deficit was approved by the state House and is awaiting consideration in the state Senate. The Senate could amend the bill to remove the provision calling for the new debt. If the Senate approves the bill without making any changes, it would head to the governor for him to sign into law or veto.
PennDOT Announces New Winter Travel Tool

With the winter season approaching, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) this week announced a new online tool is available to inform the public about PennDOT operations this winter.

New this winter, the public can view a color-coded map of when each of the nearly 40,000 miles of state-maintained roadway was last plowed by visiting the 511PA.com plow trucks section.

Learn more about this new tool and PennDOT’s preparations for the winter driving season by reading the department’s news release.
Improving Education at All Levels

As part of the Public School Code portion of the 2017-18 budget package, the House passed several important initiatives designed to enhance curriculum and improve the educational process.

Changes to overall kindergarten through 12th-grade education include delaying the implementation of the Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement until the 2019-20 school year; prohibiting “lunch shaming” to ensure all students have access to school lunches; adding opioid abuse and prevention education to drug and alcohol abuse curriculum and enhancing agriculture education offerings; and increasing the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) by $10 million to $135 million.

To help with public school administration, changes are also being sought to require training for new members of a school’s governing body and to allow a school to furlough teachers for economic reasons and basing those decisions on performance, rather than seniority.

The legislation now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.
PennDOT Encourages Students to Participate in Innovations Challenge

High school freshmen, sophomores and juniors are encouraged to take part in the first PennDOT Innovations Challenge. It asks students to look at technologies and innovative methods – aside from traditional paid advertising, marketing and social media channels – that can be developed to curb unsafe teen driving practices.

Through the PennDOT Innovations Challenge, 11 regional winners will be selected and be invited to compete in Harrisburg for the grand championship in April 2018.

Learn more by reading PennDOT’s news release.
Got Expired Drugs? Dispose of Them Safely on Oct. 28

To help keep prescription medications out of the hands of those who should not have them, the U.S. Department of Justice, working with local law enforcement, will hold a prescription drug take-back event in our area on Saturday, Oct. 28. This event allows residents to drop off unwanted or expired prescription medications free of charge for safe and convenient disposal.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents can drop their medications off at the following local sites. Diversion Control Division or dea.gov. More sites are being added daily.

Several communities in our area also have permanent collection sites. Click here for more information.